I spent this afternoon in much-needed fellowship with my sister transgender women in Midtown Atlanta. At the Evolution Project on Juniper Street (http://evolutionatl.org), we met together to talk and connect. On afternoons of the first and third Saturday of each month, the Evolution Project opens its doors exclusively to transgender women. During the week, the Evolution Project serves as a space for the broader community of Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender African-Americans; It provides free screenings for HIV/STIs and connection with medical and mental health services. I consider it a great honor to be able to share my love and my time with my sisters; Many of whom struggle with homelessness or with the self-awareness and self-esteem essential to their transformations into women.
As is usual for Saturday meetings, Ms. Erica and Ms. Jayme hosted and facilitated the check-in and sharing time. Erica is a true elder in our Sisterhood. Having transitioned to female at 16, she has spent nearly three decades of her life as a transgender woman – at times enduring homelessness. Jayme is a model of confidence. She has successfully navigated the world of restaurant work in Atlanta as ultra-femme for two decades. Relationships are a popular topic voiced by my younger sisters at Saturday meetings. Yet Erica and Jayme urge the women to care for themselves first, rather than losing themselves in dependency on boyfriends. Too often, my sisters settle for male lovers who are abusive, unfaithful, or even murderous. Too many men in our society refuse to consider us “real women”; Some even regard us as less than human. Hence, I join with Erica and Jayme in advising my young sisters to focus on work, education, and personal growth. Once a sister walks and carries herself with the full confidence of her inner womanhood, she can hope to win a quality mate. On such a theme as “To thine own self be true”, I joined my elders in supporting the young sisters. Our lives are in almost constant peril, not the least of which is the high rate of HIV infection among African-American Transgender women. I sense such Divine energy in these women. Atheist intellectuals could succeed in crushing my faith in a personal Goddess, yet my faith would endure. The Transgender Women of Atlanta, shining in midst of their struggles, would be my Goddess.